Return to Work on Campus

Dear Staff and Faculty Colleagues,

In her April 1, 2021 message, President Bergeron announced that we will be resuming our full residential liberal arts campus experience in fall 2021. With the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines and our recent decision to require vaccines of all students, we look forward to being together once again on campus. We are writing to you to share more information about returning to campus.

Returning to work on campus
The process of everyone returning to work on campus will be phased in over the next three months. Staff will return to work on campus by August 2, 2021 or at the start of their academic year appointment, and all faculty will return to teaching in person on August 30, 2021. Just as working remotely brought difficulties, we know the retransition to campus will bring other challenges, including important health and family issues. A high rate of vaccination, alongside thoughtful campus safety protocols on campus, will help mitigate health concerns. For family issues, we have built in a long lead time between now and August to support a smoother transition. To further support staff with childcare challenges, we will also replenish COVID-19 Leave banks to at least five days on July 1, 2021. This leave will be available through August 31, 2021, after which time the College will reassess it.

Each department, of course, has different work needs so the optimal timing for a return to campus is going to vary from division to division. For this reason, the senior leadership, in collaboration with department heads, is developing plans for their respective areas. You will hear more from your department head or a senior administrator in the coming weeks. These plans will be based on CDC recommendations and the College’s own safety protocols, which continue to evolve with the assistance from our partners at Hartford HealthCare.

Report your vaccination status by June 7
Understanding our community vaccination rate is essential to our summer and fall planning. Many faculty and staff have already shared their vaccination information with Human Resources. To show our gratitude, all faculty and staff who report their vaccine status by June 7, 2021 will be entered into a raffle for a $50 gift card from the College Bookshop, and four winners will be announced at the June 9 Faculty and Staff meeting.

If you are vaccinated and haven’t yet shared your information with Human Resources, follow the instructions in this April 27, 2021 email. If you will not be fully vaccinated by June 7, please let Human Resources know by completing THIS form.

If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccination, we highly encourage you to do so. Getting a COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to keep yourself, your family and the broader community safe. Achieving a 90 percent or higher vaccination rate is essential to the strength of our community immunity and for returning to a greater sense of normalcy. If you have questions or concerns about the vaccines or the vaccination process, please speak with your primary care provider and review the medical information available about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Here are a few sources:

Comparing the COVID-19 Vaccines: How Are They Different? – Yale Medicine
COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts – Mayo Clinic
COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Specific Groups – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe? – Johns Hopkins Medicine
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines – World Health Organization
Vaccine Safety – US Department of Health and Human Services
Wondering about COVID-19 Vaccines if you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy? – Harvard Medical School

New Campus Protocols Beginning June 1
With our density on campus dropping as we shift to summer operations and with an increasing number of our campus community having been fully vaccinated we will be implementing changes to some of our campus COVID-19 protocols beginning June 1, 2021.

Testing:

  • If you are fully vaccinated and have reported your vaccination information to Human Resources, you will not need to participate in weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing. Given that everyone has become accustomed to regular testing, each vaccinated person will be able to be tested three times over the course of the summer if they choose. We are calling these voluntary tests “Peace of Mind” tests. 
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to continue to participate in regular testing following the same schedule as this past year (twice a week if you work three or more days a week on campus and once a week if you work once or twice a week).

Contact Quarantine:

  • If you are fully vaccinated, have reported your vaccination information to Human Resources, and are identified, through contact tracing, as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19, you will not be required to quarantine.
  • If you are not vaccinated or have not reported your full vaccination status to Human Resources, the quarantine protocol remains the same as the spring semester—ten days and three negative tests. If you are able to fulfill your job responsibilities remotely, you are expected to continue working during your quarantine period. If you are in quarantine after August 2, 2021 and can work remotely, you should complete and follow the Telework Agreement for your quarantine period (the Telework Policy and Agreement can be found on CamelWeb under Documents and Policies in the Human Resources folder.)


Travel:  

  • College sponsored domestic travel will resume, and we will be following the CDC recommendations for travel.
    • If you are fully vaccinated and have reported your vaccination information to Human Resources, you should follow normal COVID-19 precautions while traveling, such as mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large crowds. When you return from travel you should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms but you do NOT need to be tested or to quarantine.
    • If you are not vaccinated or have not reported your full vaccination status to Human Resources, you should report your out-of-state overnight travel (both personal and College travel) to the College in order to help manage quarantine when you return. You should follow normal COVID-19 precautions while traveling such as mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and avoiding large crowds. When you return from travel, you should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and quarantine for a full seven days before returning to work on campus. During your quarantine period you should be tested on campus at least once, three to five days after you return home. When you return to work, you should resume your regular testing schedule. You are expected to notify your supervisor or department head if your quarantine will impact your work. If you are able to fulfill your job responsibilities remotely, you are expected to continue working during your quarantine period. If you are in quarantine after August 2, 2021 and can work remotely, you should complete and follow the Telework Agreement for your quarantine period.
  • College sponsored international travel must be coordinated with and approved by your division heads. Travel to countries that the CDC’s COVID-19 risk assessment level is one or two will be permitted, and those with level three or four may be considered on a case-by-case basis. When international travel is approved the same expectations noted above for domestic travel should be followed. Please refer to the CDC Travel Alerts for country specific details and note that these alert levels are regularly updated so it is important to check them often when traveling.
  • Personal travel should follow the expectations noted above for College sponsored travel.
  • The College strongly discourages personal international travel to locations where the CDC has determined that the risk assessment level for COVID-19 is high, very high or unknown (alert levels 3, 4 and 0 respectively).

Mask Wearing and Social Distancing on Campus:

  • Mask wearing expectations on campus continue to remain the same for everyone. Masks should continue to be worn inside regardless of vaccination status. Outside, masks can be removed if you are alone but should be easily accessible if you come into close contact with others. Social distancing inside continues to be six feet and outside is three feet.
  • We understand that the CDC recently updated their recommendations regarding mask wearing--the College is not, at this time, making any additional changes to our mask wearing protocols.  We are evaluating the recommendations that were issued yesterday and consulting with our external advisors, and will notify you if there are further updates.


Remote work after August 2
Connecticut College is known for our strong sense of community. This is central to our mission as a residential liberal arts college. We know from our pre-pandemic experience that frequent in-person interactions among faculty and staff are what our students long for. We thrive on this as well. A full return to campus will help to sustain this distinctive aspect of our culture.

In 2009, the College adopted a Teleworking Policy for staff that is mindful of Conn’s strong sense of community. This policy allows teleworking arrangements in limited situations when the specific circumstances outweigh the desirability or feasibility of having work performed on campus. Telework is not a universal benefit; arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis, and the needs of the College guide decision making in this regard. The impact on culture, community, communication, and workflow will be considered when evaluating any request to continue teleworking after August 2, 2021.

We are deeply grateful for everything you have done over the past 14 months to keep our campus safe and our COVID-19 levels extremely low. Your willingness and ability to innovate and adapt the way you teach and work has enabled us to deliver engaging learning experiences and safe living and working conditions throughout the academic year. Thank you again for caring for one another!

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Cole
Dean of the Faculty

Cheryl Miller
Vice President for Human Resources and Organizational Development